Over the past few years the Raiders' slogan of "Just Win, Baby" has been mocked and ridiculed but not actually used much. There hasn’t been a game in recent memory that epitomizes the phrase more than the one that took place at the Oakland Coliseum on Sunday, Oct. 10th against the San Diego Chargers. Call it ugly, lucky or whatever else you want to call it—a win is a win.
Leading up to the game there were many heated debates about the head coach, the quarterbacks, the defense, the scheme and other things, many Raiders fans were verbally attacking and insulting one another about each person’s take on the state of the team. Everyone had an opinion.
The only thing the media wanted to talk about leading up to the game was how the Chargers owned the Raiders. When you win 12 in row against a division rival the word "own" doesn’t really do it justice.
The defense played well early on. They forced back-to-back three-and-outs which led to a safety, field goal and a touchdown. It looked like Norvell Turner mouthed the words “you're fired” to Steve Crosby, the special teams coach, after back-to-back blocked punts by the Oakland special teams. After getting torched by Seattle there was definitely a sense of "here we go again" on the San Diego sideline.
After the first two possessions, all Philip Rivers did was light up the Raiders like a pinball machine. It seemed as though the Air Coryell offense was back in full effect. Then their defense got rolling and knocked Bruce “The Spark” Gradkowski out with an injured shoulder. The feeling was grim, really grim in Raider land. It was like riding a really bumpy but familiar roller coaster.
Something on the Raiders kept the faithful hopeful. Janikowski did his part, making both field goals he was asked to make. Everyone in the stadium seemed to know the game was not going to come down to Janikowski—not when you are playing a high-powered offense like the Chargers.
After halftime Gradkowski attempted to come back into the game. His attempt at manning up was valiant, but his shoulder was not going to allow it. The keys needed to be turned over to Mr. Campbell. Apparently a lot of fans weren't pleased with Mr. Campbell.
Booing a guy that comes in in a backup role is flat-out ridiculous. This team has had some issues at QB the last few years, but Campbell is not the artist formally known as the top overall draft pick. Campbell has work ethic, intelligence and a lot more skill than the former QB. The Nation needs to get behind the guy, end of story. Bruce is Bruce, but Bruce is hurt.
Campbell benefited from a better performing offensive line. Are they perfect? Not by a long shot. They were effective, however. They gave him time to make his reads and find his targets. Michael Bush did his thing and hammered away at the defense.
One side note: The guy that should have gotten the game ball? Zach Miller. This guy does nothing but make plays. He is the most underrated tight end in football. He catches just about anything thrown his way. He gets YAC (yards after catch). He finds the end zone. I think his blocking ability is underrated.
The other star has to go to the defense. Stopping the run was clearly a priority coming in, and they did a good job of that. The passing game was another story. Now they need to figure out how to get pressure consistently on the QB.
When Michael Bush punched it in the only thing was time—too much time left. The passing defense didn’t look like it had a hope in heck of stopping the Chargers. Plus, they only needed a field goal.
Seemed like it was time for the good old, useless prevent. The defense that only prevents a win, not a loss. As the Chargers were moving the ball they were seemingly being aided by the referees. Chris Johnson isn’t a good corner, but the pass interference call with the game on the line was questionable at best.
Out of nowhere a light bulb went on. It was time to unleash the hounds. Blitz like there was no tomorrow—and that is just what John Marshall did. The beautiful thing is, it worked. Like a charm. Rivers no longer had time; he couldn’t sit back and pick the Raiders apart. He had to make his reads quicker and get rid of the ball.
With just about a minute left on the clock it happened. Eight years ago in the snow, one of the worst calls in the history of the NFL was made. It robbed Oakland of the chance to go to the AFC Championship game. It sent the Patriots on the road to being called a dynasty and the Nation spinning.
Sunday the groundwork was set for the NFL to make another historic tuck rule call. Michael Huff came around the right end and got to Philip Rivers before he could deliver the ball. Rivers coughed it up and Tyvon Branch took it 64 yards to the house.
The Raider faithful knew it was going to replay. It was under two minutes and coming from the man upstairs in the booth. No one around me believed it would go the Raiders' way. The Raiders were going to get shafted again. "Tuck Rule part dos," as my good friend Kenny Powers would say. The Raiders were screwed.
Then something happened. They kept replaying the play, over and over. People started looking at each other and saying: “Rivers arm wasn’t going forward when the ball came out.” The Charger fans were getting nervous. Was it possible? Were the Raiders finally going to get the call and beat the Chargers?
Then the referee, (probably fearing for his life) made the right call: The ruling on the field stands—fumble—and the result of the play is a touchdown.
It’s been a long time since I have seen that much happiness in the Nation. It was hard- fought and well-deserved.
If you look at the box score from the game the stat line wasn’t super impressive for the Raiders. When you look at the Chargers' stats it’s hard to believe that they lost.
As a fan I don’t give a rats you-know-what about stats anymore, that is except for one: winning. The only thing I could think was "Just Win, Baby," and they did.
I don’t care if it’s Bruce or Jason under center. I don’t care if Bush or DMAC is running. I don’t care if DHB catches 15 or zero. I don’t care if they give up 500 yards of offense. I care about one thing: The Raiders won, and this is the best Monday I have had in a while.